Childhood mental disorders and abuse can lead to chronic pain

Psychological trauma that some children experience early in life can lead to chronic pain disorders in adulthood.

A report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry found that previous studies connecting childhood mistreatment with future health conditions did not pay proper attention to the effect of early-onset mental disorders on physical health as an adult.

"In prior research that has considered the influence of the early psychosocial environment on later physical health, mental disorders have generally been out of the frame of consideration, which may be an important oversight," write the authors.

Researchers took data from World Health Organization surveys that chronicled the mental health of residents of 10 countries. One part of the interview involved assessed chronic pain conditions that participants had, and questioned them regarding adversities they faced as a child. Scientists were looking to determine if there was a connection between childhood events and physical discomfort as an adult.

Childhood trauma that study authors took into account included abuse, neglect, divorce, family economic history and loss of a parent or guardian. Researchers also questioned participants regarding any mental disorders they may have experienced as a young person including anxiety and depression.

The results suggest that kids with early-onset mental disorders are more likely to develop chronic pain conditions as adults, including osteoarthritis and migraines. Individuals who were exposed to physical abuse as a child reported even more physical problems such as heart disease, asthma and chronic back pain.

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